15 Best Things To Do In St Ives, England

15 Best Things To Do In St Ives, England

By will

St. Ives, England, a charming coastal town nestled on the southwestern tip of Cornwall, offers a delightful array of activities and attractions to satisfy any traveler’s desires.

Whether you’re an art enthusiast, a nature lover, a history buff, or simply in search of a relaxing seaside retreat, St. Ives has something for everyone.

From exploring world-class art galleries to indulging in mouthwatering seafood feasts, there are countless experiences waiting to be discovered in this picturesque town.

As you stroll through the winding streets of St. Ives, the vibrant colors of the sea and sky create a breathtaking backdrop for your adventures.

Begin by immersing yourself in the artistic atmosphere at the Tate St Ives art gallery, where contemporary works from renowned artists grace the walls.

Then, venture to the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden, where you can marvel at the intricate sculptures and explore the tranquil outdoor spaces.

For those seeking a more active pursuit, a leisurely walk along the St. Ives Coastal Path offers stunning views of the rugged coastline and the opportunity to spot native wildlife.

In addition to its artistic and natural wonders, St. Ives is steeped in history.

Uncover the town’s rich past at the St. Ives Museum, where fascinating exhibits provide insight into the lives of its inhabitants throughout the ages.

And don’t miss the chance to embark on a boat trip to Seal Island, where you can witness these playful creatures in their natural habitat.

After a day of exploration, indulge in a delectable seafood feast at one of the town’s charming restaurants, savoring the flavors of the sea while enjoying the welcoming ambiance.

With its enchanting beauty and diverse array of activities, St. Ives promises an unforgettable experience for every visitor.

Explore the Tate St Ives art gallery

Tate St Ives
Photo by John Lucas

If you’re a fan of contemporary art, you won’t want to miss exploring the vibrant and inspiring Tate St Ives gallery. As soon as you step inside, you’re greeted by a stunning display of artwork that showcases the best of modern creativity.

The gallery is filled with a diverse range of pieces, from paintings and sculptures to installations and mixed media works. Each room holds its own unique atmosphere, with carefully curated exhibitions that invite you to delve into the artist’s world.

The natural light that floods the space adds a magical touch, illuminating the colors and textures of the artwork in a way that is truly captivating.

One of the highlights of the Tate St Ives gallery is its ever-changing collection of contemporary art. You never know what you might discover during your visit, as the exhibitions are constantly being refreshed and updated.

The gallery also hosts a variety of events and workshops, allowing visitors to engage with the artwork on a deeper level. Whether you’re a seasoned art enthusiast or simply curious about the contemporary art scene, the Tate St Ives gallery offers an enriching and immersive experience.

Prepare to be inspired and challenged as you explore the thought-provoking works of some of the most talented artists of our time.

Visit the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden

Sketching in Barbara Hepworth's garden
Photo by David Hawgood

While exploring St Ives, you simply must pay a visit to the captivating Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden. This unique museum is dedicated to the life and work of renowned British sculptor Barbara Hepworth.

As soon as you step inside, you’re transported into the world of this talented artist. The museum showcases a stunning collection of her sculptures, drawings, and other works, providing a comprehensive look into her creative process and artistic vision.

The highlight of the museum is undoubtedly the sculpture garden. As you wander through the beautifully landscaped outdoor space, you’ll encounter Hepworth’s sculptures in various sizes and materials. The way the sculptures interact with the natural surroundings is truly mesmerizing. You can’t help but be drawn in by the way the sunlight casts shadows on the curves and angles of the sculptures, creating a dynamic and ever-changing visual experience.

In addition to the sculptures, the museum also offers informative exhibits that delve into Hepworth’s life and artistic journey. You can learn about her influences, her techniques, and the inspiration behind some of her most famous works. The museum provides a fascinating insight into the mind of a brilliant artist and leaves you with a deeper appreciation for her contributions to the art world.

A visit to the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden is a truly enriching experience. Whether you’re an art enthusiast or simply curious about exploring the creative expressions of talented individuals, this museum is a must-see. So take some time to immerse yourself in the beauty and wonder of Hepworth’s art, and let yourself be inspired by her incredible talent.

Take a leisurely walk along the St Ives Coastal Path

Between Clodgy Point and Carrick Du - St Ives
Photo by Sarah Smith

Embark on a leisurely stroll along the breathtaking St Ives Coastal Path, immersing yourself in the stunning natural beauty that surrounds this coastal town. As you begin your walk, you’ll be greeted by the refreshing sea breeze and the sound of crashing waves.

The path meanders along the rugged coastline, offering panoramic views of the turquoise waters and golden sandy beaches below. You’ll be captivated by the picturesque landscapes that unfold before your eyes, from dramatic cliffs to charming fishing villages nestled in coves.

As you continue along the St Ives Coastal Path, you’ll encounter an array of wildlife and flora that call this area home. Keep your eyes peeled for playful seals bobbing in the water or soaring seagulls gliding above. The path is also lined with vibrant wildflowers, adding bursts of color to the already breathtaking scenery.

Take your time and savor each step, as every turn brings a new and awe-inspiring vista.

Throughout your walk, you’ll find plenty of spots to pause and take in the surroundings. Find a cozy bench overlooking the sea, and let the tranquility wash over you. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, venture down to one of the secluded coves and dip your toes in the crystal-clear water.

The St Ives Coastal Path offers a true escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, allowing you to connect with nature and find peace in the beauty that surrounds you. So, lace up your walking shoes and set off on this unforgettable journey along the St Ives Coastal Path.

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Discover the history of St Ives at the St Ives Museum

When you stroll through the doors of the St Ives Museum, you’ll be transported back in time as you uncover the fascinating history of this charming coastal town.

The museum is a treasure trove of artifacts and exhibits that bring to life the rich heritage of St Ives.

As you wander through the different rooms, each one dedicated to a different aspect of the town’s history, you’ll be captivated by the stories and relics that have been meticulously preserved.

One of the highlights of the museum is the display showcasing St Ives’ fishing heritage.

You’ll learn about the town’s deep connection to the sea and how fishing has been a way of life for generations of St Ives residents.

From the tools and equipment used by fishermen to the tales of their daring adventures on the rough waters, you’ll gain a profound appreciation for the bravery and resilience of those who made a living from the sea.

The museum also houses a collection of artwork that reflects the town’s artistic heritage.

St Ives has long been a haven for artists, and the museum showcases the works of renowned local artists, giving you a glimpse into the creative spirit that has thrived in this picturesque town.

From vibrant paintings to intricate sculptures, you’ll be immersed in the beauty and talent that has made St Ives a hub for artistic inspiration.

As you explore the St Ives Museum, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the town’s past and the people who have shaped its identity.

The exhibits are thoughtfully curated, providing a comprehensive overview of St Ives’ history.

Whether you’re a history buff or simply curious about the town’s roots, a visit to the museum is a must-do when in St Ives.

So, take your time, soak in the stories, and let the St Ives Museum transport you to a bygone era as you uncover the captivating history of this enchanting coastal town.

Enjoy a boat trip to Seal Island

Hop on a boat and experience the excitement of cruising to Seal Island, where you’ll have the opportunity to see adorable seals in their natural habitat.

As the boat glides through the sparkling waters, the salty breeze caresses your face, heightening your sense of adventure. The anticipation builds as you approach the island, knowing that a unique wildlife encounter awaits you.

As you step off the boat onto the rocky shores of Seal Island, you can’t help but be amazed by the stunning beauty of this remote sanctuary. The island is home to a thriving population of seals, and you’re about to witness their playful antics up close. With their sleek bodies and soulful eyes, the seals gracefully navigate the water, diving in and out with agility. It’s truly a mesmerizing sight to behold.

You’ll have the chance to observe these fascinating creatures in their natural habitat, watching as they bask lazily on the sun-warmed rocks or splash around in the crystal-clear waters. The knowledgeable guides on the boat provide interesting facts about the seals’ behavior and their importance to the local ecosystem. It’s a unique opportunity to learn and appreciate the wonders of nature.

A boat trip to Seal Island is not only a thrilling adventure but also a chance to connect with the natural world. It’s an experience that will leave you with a sense of awe and a deeper appreciation for the incredible wildlife that calls St Ives home. So, hop on board and embark on this unforgettable journey to see these adorable seals in action.

Take a surfing lesson at Porthmeor Beach

After enjoying a boat trip to Seal Island and getting up close and personal with the seals, I couldn’t resist the temptation to try my hand at another exhilarating activity in St Ives – surfing! And what better place to ride the waves than Porthmeor Beach, known for its world-class surf breaks and stunning coastal scenery.

As I made my way to the beach, I couldn’t help but feel a mix of excitement and nervous anticipation. I had always admired surfers effortlessly gliding across the water, and now it was my turn to give it a shot.

The beach was bustling with activity, with surfers of all ages and skill levels dotted along the shoreline, eagerly waiting for their turn to catch a wave. The sound of crashing waves and the salty sea breeze filled the air, adding to the overall sense of adventure.

I joined a group of fellow beginners and met our friendly and experienced surf instructor. He gave us a brief but thorough lesson on surfing techniques, emphasizing the importance of balance, timing, and reading the waves. Armed with a wetsuit and a surfboard, I waded into the refreshing waters of the Atlantic, ready to conquer my fear of the unknown.

As I paddled out further, the waves grew larger and more powerful, creating a thrilling atmosphere. But with the guidance and encouragement of our instructor, I felt a surge of confidence building within me.

It was time to catch my first wave. I positioned myself on the board, feeling a surge of adrenaline as the wave approached. With a burst of energy, I pushed myself up and managed to ride the wave for what felt like an eternity. The rush of excitement and the feeling of being in harmony with the ocean was indescribable. My initial nervousness was replaced by sheer joy and a sense of accomplishment. I couldn’t believe that I was actually surfing!

Taking a surfing lesson at Porthmeor Beach was not only an exhilarating experience but also a lesson in perseverance and overcoming fears. It allowed me to connect with nature in a unique way and appreciate the power and beauty of the ocean. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced surfer, Porthmeor Beach offers the perfect setting to ride the waves and create lasting memories. So, grab a board and dive into the world of surfing in St Ives – you won’t be disappointed!

Visit the St Ives Farmers’ Market for local produce

To truly immerse yourself in the local culture and support the community, don’t miss the opportunity to explore the St Ives Farmers’ Market and indulge in the abundance of fresh, locally sourced produce.

The market is a vibrant hub of activity, with stalls overflowing with colorful fruits, vegetables, and artisanal products. As you wander through the market, you’ll be greeted by the friendly faces of local farmers, eager to share their passion for their produce and offer recommendations on how to best enjoy their offerings.

One of the highlights of the St Ives Farmers’ Market is the variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables available. From juicy strawberries in the summer to crisp apples in the autumn, you’ll find a delightful array of flavors to tantalize your taste buds. The market also features locally made cheeses, freshly baked bread, and homemade preserves, offering a true taste of the region.

Whether you’re looking to stock up on picnic supplies, gather ingredients for a delicious meal, or simply enjoy the atmosphere, the St Ives Farmers’ Market is a must-visit destination.

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In addition to the delicious food, the market provides an opportunity to learn about the local farming practices and the importance of sustainable agriculture. Many of the farmers at the market follow organic and eco-friendly methods, ensuring that the produce is not only delicious but also grown with care for the environment. By supporting these farmers, you’re not only enjoying high-quality food but also contributing to the preservation of traditional farming practices.

So, grab a basket and join me at the St Ives Farmers’ Market, where you can savor the flavors of the region while supporting the local community.

Explore the shops and boutiques in the town center

While perusing the charming streets of the town center, you’ll find an array of unique shops and boutiques that are sure to captivate your attention.

St Ives is known for its vibrant arts scene, and you’ll discover a myriad of art galleries showcasing stunning paintings, sculptures, and pottery. The local artists’ talent is truly awe-inspiring, and you’ll have the opportunity to browse through their works and even purchase a one-of-a-kind piece to take home as a memento of your visit.

In addition to the art galleries, there are also a variety of independent shops offering an eclectic mix of items. From trendy clothing boutiques to quaint antique stores, there is something to suit every taste and style.

You can spend hours wandering through the narrow streets, discovering hidden gems and unique treasures. And if you’re a fan of handmade goods, you’re in luck! St Ives is home to several craft shops where you can find beautifully crafted jewelry, ceramics, and textiles, all made by talented local artisans.

Exploring the shops and boutiques in the town center is not only a great way to support local businesses, but it’s also a delightful way to immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of St Ives.

Take a boat tour to see the seals and dolphins in the bay

Embark on an enchanting boat tour and witness the playful seals and graceful dolphins frolicking in the stunning bay.

As the boat gracefully glides through the calm waters, the anticipation builds. The guide points out different species of seals lounging on the rocky shores, their sleek bodies glistening in the sunlight. It’s a mesmerizing sight to see these adorable creatures basking in their natural habitat.

As we venture further into the bay, the dolphins make their grand entrance. With their sleek bodies and playful nature, they effortlessly swim alongside the boat, leaping out of the water in a breathtaking display of acrobatics. It’s impossible not to be captivated by their beauty and grace.

The boat tour not only offers a chance to see these magnificent creatures up close but also provides a unique perspective of St Ives’ stunning coastline. The towering cliffs, sandy beaches, and crystal-clear waters create a picturesque backdrop for this unforgettable experience.

Whether you’re a nature enthusiast or simply seeking a memorable adventure, the boat tour to see the seals and dolphins in the bay is an absolute must-do in St Ives. It’s a magical journey that will leave you in awe of the wonders of the sea and create lasting memories of your time in this charming coastal town.

Visit the Leach Pottery to learn about traditional ceramics

Immerse yourself in the rich history and artistry of traditional ceramics at the Leach Pottery, where you’ll be captivated by the intricate craftsmanship and inspired by the enduring beauty of these timeless creations.

As I stepped inside the pottery, I was immediately struck by the warm and inviting atmosphere. The air was filled with the earthy smell of clay and the gentle hum of creativity. The Leach Pottery is a haven for ceramic enthusiasts, offering a unique opportunity to witness the traditional techniques that have been passed down through generations.

The pottery is home to a remarkable collection of ceramic works, showcasing both historic pieces and contemporary designs. Each display tells a story, revealing the evolution of ceramic artistry over the years. From delicate teacups adorned with intricate patterns to bold and sculptural vases, the craftsmanship on display is truly awe-inspiring.

As I wandered through the gallery, I couldn’t help but be drawn to the pottery studio, where skilled artisans were diligently shaping clay on their wheels. Their hands moved with precision and expertise, effortlessly transforming shapeless lumps of clay into beautiful vessels. It was a mesmerizing sight, and I couldn’t help but feel a sense of admiration for these talented artists.

The Leach Pottery also offers workshops and classes for those eager to try their hand at ceramics. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced potter, these classes provide a unique opportunity to learn from the masters and develop your own artistic style. I was fortunate enough to participate in a workshop, and it was a truly transformative experience. Under the guidance of a skilled instructor, I learned the basics of wheel throwing and hand-building techniques. It was a hands-on experience that allowed me to fully appreciate the skill and patience required to create pottery.

By the end of the workshop, I had a newfound appreciation for the art form and a deep sense of satisfaction in creating something with my own hands.

Visiting the Leach Pottery is not just a journey into the world of ceramics, but also a celebration of the enduring beauty of handmade craftsmanship. It is a place where artistry comes to life, and where the legacy of traditional ceramics is preserved for future generations to appreciate. Whether you’re an art enthusiast or simply curious about the ancient art of pottery, a visit to the Leach Pottery is a truly enriching experience that will leave you inspired and in awe of the incredible talent behind these timeless creations.

Take a scenic train ride on the St Ives Bay Line

Get ready to be captivated by the breathtaking scenery as you hop on the scenic train ride along the picturesque St Ives Bay Line.

As the train chugs along the tracks, you’ll be treated to stunning views of the rugged coastline, sandy beaches, and rolling hills.

The train weaves its way through charming seaside villages, offering glimpses of colorful houses and quaint fishing boats.

As you sit back and relax in the comfort of the train, the gentle sway and rhythmic sound of the wheels on the tracks create a soothing ambiance.

The large windows provide unobstructed views of the surrounding landscape, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the beauty of the St Ives Bay.

You’ll catch sight of surfers riding the waves, seagulls soaring through the sky, and maybe even a seal or two bobbing in the crystal-clear waters.

The journey on the St Ives Bay Line is not just about the destination, but also about the experience itself.

Whether you’re a nature lover, a photography enthusiast, or simply seeking a moment of tranquility, this scenic train ride is a must-do activity in St Ives.

So, grab a window seat, sit back, and let the stunning coastal scenery unfold before your eyes as you embark on this unforgettable journey.

Enjoy a seafood feast at one of the town’s restaurants

Situated along the charming coastal town, you can savor the delectable flavors of the sea at one of the local restaurants while enjoying the vibrant atmosphere.

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St Ives is renowned for its fresh seafood, and you won’t be disappointed by the culinary delights that await you here. From succulent lobster to perfectly grilled fish, the restaurants in St Ives offer a wide variety of dishes that will satisfy even the most discerning palate.

As you step into one of these restaurants, you’ll be greeted by the inviting aromas of freshly caught seafood being cooked to perfection. The chefs here take pride in using the finest local ingredients, ensuring that every dish is bursting with flavor.

Whether you choose a traditional fish and chips or opt for a more adventurous seafood paella, each bite will transport you to a world of culinary bliss. And as you indulge in your meal, you can soak in the lively atmosphere of the town, with its bustling streets and stunning coastal views.

Don’t miss the opportunity to experience a seafood feast in St Ives. The combination of mouthwatering dishes, friendly service, and the picturesque setting will make this dining experience truly unforgettable.

So, take a seat, raise a glass, and let your taste buds embark on a journey through the bountiful flavors of the sea.

Explore the beautiful gardens at Trewyn Garden

As I wander through the charming coastal town of St Ives, I can’t help but be drawn to the stunning gardens at Trewyn Garden.
Nestled amidst the picturesque landscape, these gardens are a true oasis of tranquility.
As I step inside, I’m immediately greeted by a burst of vibrant colors and intoxicating scents.
The carefully manicured flower beds are filled with a variety of blooms, from delicate roses to exotic orchids.
The lush greenery provides a soothing backdrop, creating a sense of calm and serenity.

As I continue to explore, I’m captivated by the enchanting pathways that wind through the garden.
Each turn reveals a new surprise, whether it’s a hidden bench tucked away in a secluded corner or a charming fountain bubbling with crystal-clear water.
The sound of birds chirping and the gentle rustling of leaves adds to the harmonious ambiance.

One of the highlights of Trewyn Garden is the collection of rare and exotic plants.
From towering palm trees to vibrant tropical flowers, this botanical treasure trove is a feast for the eyes.
The knowledgeable staff is always on hand to provide fascinating insights about the different species and their origins.

Whether you’re a nature lover or simply seeking a moment of tranquility, a visit to Trewyn Garden is a must.
The beauty and serenity of these gardens will leave you feeling refreshed and inspired.
So, take a leisurely stroll, immerse yourself in the natural beauty, and let Trewyn Garden transport you to a world of peace and tranquility.

Take a boat trip to Godrevy Lighthouse

After exploring the beautiful gardens at Trewyn Garden, I couldn’t resist the urge to take a boat trip to Godrevy Lighthouse.

As I boarded the boat and felt the gentle sway beneath my feet, I could already sense the adventure that awaited me.

The captain greeted us with a warm smile and shared fascinating stories about the lighthouse’s rich history as we set off into the sparkling waters.

As we sailed closer to Godrevy Lighthouse, the stunning scenery unfolded before my eyes.

Perched majestically on a rocky island, the lighthouse stood tall against the backdrop of the deep blue sea.

Its gleaming white walls contrasted beautifully with the rugged coastline, creating a picture-perfect scene that seemed straight out of a postcard.

The boat took us on a leisurely tour around the lighthouse, allowing us to marvel at its intricate architecture and learn about its role in guiding ships safely through the treacherous waters.

The captain shared captivating tales of shipwrecks and heroic rescues, painting a vivid picture of the lighthouse’s importance in maritime history.

I couldn’t help but feel a sense of awe and admiration for the dedicated individuals who had manned this beacon of light for generations.

As we made our way back to St Ives, I couldn’t help but reflect on the incredible experience I had just had.

Taking a boat trip to Godrevy Lighthouse had not only allowed me to immerse myself in the beauty of the Cornish coast, but it had also given me a deeper appreciation for the history and culture of this enchanting town.

Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply seeking a unique adventure, this boat trip is an absolute must-do when visiting St Ives.

Attend a live performance at the St Ives Theatre or the St Ives Guildhall

Make sure to experience the magic of St Ives by attending a live performance at either the St Ives Theatre or the St Ives Guildhall. Both venues offer a vibrant and exciting program of shows that cater to a variety of tastes. Whether you’re a fan of theater, music, comedy, or dance, you’re sure to find something that will leave you entertained and inspired.

The St Ives Theatre, located in the heart of the town, is a charming venue that hosts a range of performances throughout the year. From local amateur dramatics to touring productions, there’s always something happening on its stage. The intimate setting allows for an up-close and personal experience, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the performances. The talented actors and musicians bring their characters to life, transporting you to different worlds and eras. It’s a truly captivating experience that shouldn’t be missed.

If you’re looking for a more traditional setting, the St Ives Guildhall is the place to go. This historic building has been hosting performances for over 200 years, and stepping inside feels like stepping back in time. The grandeur of the hall adds an extra layer of charm to any show, creating a sense of occasion and excitement. Whether it’s a classical concert, a ballet performance, or a comedy show, the Guildhall provides a stunning backdrop for a night of entertainment.

So, make sure to check out the schedules for both venues and plan your visit accordingly. Attending a live performance in St Ives is a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the local culture and create lasting memories.

Conclusion

In conclusion, my time in St Ives, England has been nothing short of extraordinary. From immersing myself in the vibrant art scene at the Tate St Ives gallery to exploring the captivating sculptures at the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden, I’ve been constantly amazed by the rich cultural offerings this town has to offer.

The leisurely walks along the St Ives Coastal Path have allowed me to soak in the breathtaking views of the coastline, while the St Ives Museum has provided fascinating insights into the history of this charming town.

One of the highlights of my trip was the boat trip to Seal Island, where I had the incredible opportunity to watch these playful creatures in their natural habitat. And let’s not forget the mouthwatering seafood feasts I indulged in at the town’s restaurants – a true culinary delight! The Trewyn Garden enchanted me with its stunning array of flowers and plants, creating a serene oasis amidst the bustling town.

As I embarked on a boat trip to Godrevy Lighthouse, the iconic landmark stood tall against the backdrop of the azure sea, leaving me in awe of its beauty.

To top it all off, the live performances at the St Ives Theatre and the St Ives Guildhall provided me with unforgettable evenings filled with entertainment and laughter. St Ives truly is a destination that offers something for everyone – whether you’re an art enthusiast, a nature lover, or a history buff.

With its charm, beauty, and vibrant atmosphere, this town has left an indelible mark on my heart. I can’t wait to return and continue exploring all the wonders that St Ives has to offer.

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About the author

Will is an avid hillwalker and traveler. You may find him surfing in Cornwall or hiking in the Yorkshire Dales.